P. C. Chaturvedi Secretary of Labour & Employment Addresses the 100th Session of International Labour Conference on Report of ILO Director General-“Equality at WORK: the Continuing Challenge “

Millions of people suffer from discrimination in the world of work which not only violates a basic human right but has wider social and economic consequences. Discrimination stifles opportunities wasting the human talent needed for economic progress and accentuates social tensions and inequalities. Combating discrimination is an essential part of promoting Decent Work, and success on this front is felt well beyond the workplace.” Shri Prabhat C. Chaturvedi, Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Employment said this while speaking at the 100th session of the International Labour Conference on Friday 10th June, 2011at Geneva.

Shri Chaturvedi stated that discrimination on various grounds can be exacerbated in times of economic uncertainty. Whatever has been the social impact of the financial crisis, post-crisis recovery strategies and measures must not ignore the principles of non-discrimination and equality.

Shri Chaturvedi further stated that Government of India has ratified the Conventions on Equal Remuneration (C-100) and Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) C-111. To ensure the enforcement of ILO Convention No. 100 concerning Equal Remuneration to men and women for work of equal value, the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976 was enacted. The Constitution of India guarantees Civil Liberties which include individual rights common to most liberal democracies. Article 15 of the Constitution of India prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste sex or place of birth and Article 16 states that there shall be Equality of Opportunity for all citizens in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the state.

He further added that the Right against Exploitation is also a fundamental right in our Constitution aimed to prevent exploitation of weaker sections of society. The Bonded Labour Abolition Act, 1976 has been enacted by Parliament to bring an end to this practice. The prevention of sexual harassment of women at the workplace also has the force of law under Article 141 of the Constitution of India. The practice of untouchability has been declared an offence punishable by law in India and Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 has been enacted by Parliament of India.

Shri Chaturvedi mentioned that Government of India attaches utmost priority to the welfare and development of the weaker sections of society. The structure and mechanism of implementation of protection of Civil Rights Act, 1954 and the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989 include provision for legal aid to affected persons, setting up of special course, vigilance and monitory committees under Chief Minister and District Magistrate respectively. SC/ST candidate have been given reservation in professional courses like medical, engineering colleges in India and also have been providing reservation for jobs in the Civil Services of the country in order to encourage their participation in the economic and political mainstream of the country. Government of India reserves 50 per cent of seats in Central Institute of Higher Education for economically and socially backward candidates.

Shri Chaturvedi stated that Indian law provides a quota system, where by a percentage of seats are reserved in employment in Government and in the Public Sector Units (PSU) and in all public and private educational institution. The reservation policy is also extended to SC/ST for representation in Parliament of India. A reservation of 3% seats is given to physically challenged persons in Government jobs.

He further stated that Government of India is following a policy of positive discrimination by reserving a part of benefits under Flagship Welfare Programme like Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), Local Self Government (Panchayat), Municipalities and Vocational Training Institute exclusively for women. We have introduced legislation to assure minimum wages, maternity benefits and equal remuneration for women. A legislation to secure one-third reservation to women in the Parliament of India is currently under process. The Protection of Women for Domestic Violence Act is helping to act as a deterrent as well as providing legal recourse to women who are victims of any kind of domestic violence. A new scheme, Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana (IGMSY), for pregnant and lactating women has been approved by the Government. A woman Government servant having minor children below the age of 18 years may be granted child care leave for a maximum period of two years, i.e.730 days during the entire service for taking care of up to two children whether for rearing or to look after any of their needs like examination, sickness, etc.

Shri Chaturvedi mentioned that lack of work opportunities in home countries have led to the movement of people across borders. India has enacted the Emigration Act in 1983. The Act provides for the regulatory framework in respect of Indian workers for overseas employment on contractual basis and seeks to safeguard their interest and also to ensure their welfare. The Act makes it mandatory for registration of recruiting agents with the Office of Protector General of Emigrants for conducting business of recruitment of specified categories for overseas employment.

Shri Chaturvedi concluded by stating that all countries have major responsibility in steering and contributing to international action on the elimination of discrimination and inequality in the work-place. We appreciate that ILO has shown itself to be the leading body in combating discrimination and promoting equality, right from its inception. We the member countries of ILO should reiterate our commitment at this forum to ensure Decent Work & Equal opportunity in the World of Work, which alone can form the foundation of equitable and balanced growth.

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Union Minister for Labour & Employment Mallikarjun Kharge’s address to the International Labour Conference 100th Session, 2011 in Geneva on Report of the Director General- A New Era of Social Justice Following is the text of the Speech of Union Minister for Labour & Employment Shri Mallikarjun Kharge at the International Labour Conference 100th Session, 2011 in Geneva today on Report of the Director General- A New Era of Social Justice:

Mr. Chairperson,

We welcome the Director Generals’ Report on a ‘New Era of Social Justice’ in this historic 100th Session of the ILC. The Report provides a good opportunity to all member states of ILO for deliberating on the need for a strong social dimension to globalization in achieving improved and fair outcomes enshrined in the Decent Work Agenda.

Ensuring social sustainability of growth is a universal challenge today. Rapid growth and urbanization have contributed to increased inequalities and imbalances. Improving public services delivery particularly education and health, better targeting of subsidies, ensuring employment opportunities and economic support for women and marginalized sections of society are all needed to ensure social sustainability of growth. The world is now witnessing a major shift in policies inspired by a vision of sustainable development and inclusive growth in economies, enterprises, workplaces and ultimately in society.

India is also working towards implementing the commitment towards social progress, economic growth and increased engagement with nations around the world in a most effective and determined manner. We have pursued a strategy of seeking inclusive growth at home and inclusive globalization internationally that benefits the have-nots and reduces disparities.

We have enacted laws that guarantee the Right to Employment and Right to Education. We now propose to introduce a legislation giving our citizens the Right to Food. A superstructure of development has been built on this foundation of investment in human capabilities. Our policies have aimed to empower socially, educationally and economically weaker sections of our society.

The Report has highlighted the fact that the goal of more and better jobs remains a distant reality aggravated by the global crisis. In this context we would like to point out that the generation of adequate work opportunities for our growing labour force has been one of the central objectives of India’s development planning since its very inception. We have long recognized that productive employment is not merely a means to the ultimate end of economic development but also a direct and effective method of poverty alleviation. On the whole we have been reasonably successful in our efforts to generate adequate employment opportunities for the vast majority of informal workers in the rural areas through implementation of the MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act). In response to the global economic slowdown we undertook a massive fiscal stimulus programme that helped maintain reasonable growth. We are constantly working towards reducing the fiscal and revenue deficits, increasing public investment and cutting down on wasteful expenditure.

Our Government has launched a massive programme for skill development and technical training. A new National Skill Development Initiative has been launched to empower all individuals through improved skills, knowledge, nationally and internationally recognized qualifications to gain access to decent employment and ensure India’s competitiveness in the global market. India has set a target of creating 500 million skilled workers by 2022.

Social protection is an investment which enhances the productivity of workers in the long run. India has launched a massive campaign to provide basic healthcare facilities to workers in the unorganized sector who comprise of 94 per cent of the workforce in India through its ambitious and successfully running flagship programme – RSBY (Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana). Labour Welfare Funds have been set up and the Unorganized Workers Social Security Act 2008 has been introduced to provide social protection measures to the informal sector workers.

We endorse the concept of Social Protection Floor but each country should decide the level of its Social Protection Floor. A uniform Social Security Floor cannot be prescribed for all countries and there should not be any fixed timelines. Social Protection Floor should be closely linked to the country’s financial resources, size of informal sector, employment strategy and other social policies. In India we are moving from ‘scheme based’ to ‘rights based’ social security entitlements.

We agree that the Global Jobs Pact has been instrumental in meeting the challenges posed by the financial crisis. It has helped member states of ILO to accelerate employment creation and jobs recovery through well regulated trade and markets that benefit all. However, the momentum has to be carried further. We need to shape policies that produce high levels of growth with decent work outcomes

We endorse the point made in the report that investment in labour regulations and emphasis on tripartite dialogue are essential components of the Decent Work Agenda that help to make growth more effective, the approach of India with regard to International Labour Standards has always been positive. The ILO instruments have provided guidelines and useful framework for the evolution of legislative and administrative measures for the protection and advancement of the interests of workers.

Mr Chairperson, India has great faith in principles and practices of ILO. The time has now come for all member states of ILO to pledge their support to ensure policy coherence for a social dimension in globalisation with decent work as the overriding policy objective.

Thank you.

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Mallikarjun Kharge Union Minister for Labour & Employment addresses 100th Session of the International Labour Conference in Geneva on ‘A New Era of Social Justice’ highlighting the adverse consequences of globalisation on decent work opportunities for workers “Ensuring social sustainability of growth is a universal challenge today. Rapid growth and urbanization have contributed to increased inequalities and imbalances. Improving public services delivery particularly education and health, better targeting of subsidies, ensuring employment opportunities and economic support for women and marginalized sections of society are all needed to ensure social sustainability of growth”. This was emphasized by Shri Mallikarjun Kharge, Union Minister for Labour & Employment during his address to the 100th Session of the International Labour Conference in Geneva today. His address was in the context of ILO Director Generals Report on ‘A New Era of Social Justice’ which highlighted the adverse consequences of globalisation on decent work opportunities for workers all over the world.

Shri Kharge indicated that the world was witnessing a major shift in policies to achieve sustainable development and economic growth. He outlined India’s major policies and programmes for implementing the commitment towards overall social and economic progress to empower the weaker sections of society. He mentioned that India is working towards implementing the commitment towards social progress, economic growth and increased engagement with nations around the world in a most effective and determined manner. Indian is pursuing a strategy of seeking inclusive growth at home and inclusive globalization internationally. He emphasised that India is moving from a scheme-based approach to rights-based approach for ensuring social security entitlements. India had guaranteed to its citizens the Right to Employment and the Right to Education and was in the process of introducing the Right to Food. Shri Kharge spoke about challenges posed by the financial crisis and how India had been able to tide over the same with reasonable success through its flagship programmes like Mahatma Gandhi NREGA and RSBY for unorganised sector workforce. India had introduced a new Skills Initiative with the target of creating 500 million skilled workers by 2022. Social security funds have been set up under the Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Act 2008 for informal sector workers.

Speaking on Social Protection Floor Shri Kharge stated that India supported the concept. However, there should not be a uniform Social Security Floor. Each country should decide the level of its Social Protection Floor which should be closely linked to the country’s financial resources, employment strategy and other social policies. Also there should not be any specific timelines. He emphasised on India’s positive approach to Labour Standards which had provided the guiding framework for Labour Laws being administered in the country.

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